In the vast expanse of anime genres, science fiction stands out as both a pioneer and an innovator. From the origins of Astro Boy in 1963, which laid the foundation for futuristic tales in animation, the world of Sci-fi anime has evolved tremendously, consistently pushing boundaries and redefining our perceptions of tomorrow. This journey, from retro-futuristic visions to contemporary masterpieces, has been marked by unpredictable plots, advanced technologies, and mind-bending possibilities.
If you’re like me, searching for the best science fiction anime that not only entertains but also challenges the intellect, then you’ve come to the right place. Dive deep with me as I explore the annals of this genre, touching upon its rich history and highlighting masterpieces that have left an indelible mark on fans worldwide. These best unpredictable science fiction anime series and movies are recommended for both beginners and advanced watchers.
15. Summer Time Rendering
Summer Time Rendering (サマータイムレンダ) is a suspenseful science fiction anime that aired in 2022, with a gripping and intense storyline spanning 25 episodes. This thrilling narrative ensures viewers will want to binge-watch the series to its conclusion. The anime is based on a manga written by Yasuki Tanaka, serialized in Shonen Jump+ from 2017 to 2021. The anime adaptation was masterfully produced by OLM Team Kojima.
After the sudden death of his childhood friend Ushio, Shinpei returns to his hometown on an isolated island. Once there, he discovers the town’s dark secrets, involving mysterious deaths and eerie occurrences. As he delves deeper, Shinpei learns about the island’s legends and the shadows haunting it. Armed with a peculiar ability to “render” or rewind time, Shinpei strives to uncover the truth and save his loved ones from impending doom.
Studio: OLM Team Kojima
14. Heavenly Delusion
Heavenly Delusion (天国大魔境), an anime immersed in mystery and post-apocalyptic adventure, is derived from Masakazu Ishiguro’s manga, which began its serialization in Monthly Afternoon in 2018. The esteemed anime studio Production I.G, responsible for classics such as Ghost in the Shell, took charge of the adaptation. Although its initial popularity was modest, the series gained significant recognition and acclaim following its broadcast. The first season airing in the spring of 2023 is composed of 13 intriguing episodes.
In the post-apocalyptic world of Heavenly Delusion, readers follow two contrasting narratives. On one hand, young boy Maru and bodyguard Kiruko embark on a treacherous journey seeking a haven known as Heaven amidst the ruined landscape. Parallelly, a group of children, oblivious of the outside world, grow up within a walled facility. The interconnected stories exploring survival, hope, and humanity’s resilience amidst devastation weave together a compelling sci-fi adventure.
Aired: 2023 (Season 1)
Episodes: 13 (Season 1)
Studio: Production I.G
13. A Certain Magical Index
Based on the light novel of the same name written by Kazuma Kamachi and illustrated by Kiyotaka Haimura, A Certain Magical Index (とある魔術の禁書目録) is a famous action, science fiction anime series It originally aired with 24 episodes from 2008 to 2009, produced by J.C.Staff. After the initial series, the second season came next with 24 episodes in 2010-2011, and the third season had 26 episodes in 2018-2019.
The story is set in a world where science and magic coexist, focusing on Academy City, a technologically advanced city populated by students with psychic abilities. Touma Kamijo, a student in Academy City, possesses the mysterious Imagine Breaker power in his right hand, which nullifies all magic, psychic, or divine powers, but also negates his own luck. He meets a young nun named Index, who holds 103,000 forbidden magical texts within her mind. As the two form a bond, they become entangled in conflicts between magicians and espers, revealing the deep-seated conspiracies and power struggles within the city.
Aired: 2008-2009 (Season 1)/2010-2011 (Season 2)/2018-2019 (Season 3)
Episodes: 24 (Season 1)/24 (Season 2)/26 (Season 3)
Heavenly Delusion has become one of the hottest anime series since its first season was released in the spring of 2023. […]
12. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (サイバーパンク エッジランナーズ) is a standout modern cyberpunk sci-fi anime released in 2022. Based on the 2020 video game Cyberpunk 2077, this anime series was undertaken by the game’s developer, CD Projekt RED, starting from 2018. The anime is made by Studio Trigger, a leading Japanese animation studio renowned for its dynamic style, perfectly complementing the cyberpunk universe. The series is directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, known for hits like Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill. It comprises 10 episodes, all of which are available for streaming on Netflix.
In the future city of Night City, where technology and body modification have become commonplace, the story follows a boy David Martinez living as a street kid through a 10-episode independent storyline. After losing everything, the boy chooses a path to survive: to become an Edgerunner, an outlaw mercenary known as Cyberpunk.
Studio: CD Projekt RED, Studio Trigger
11. 86 -Eighty Six-
In the field of classic science fiction, post-2020 has seen the birth of numerous high-quality anime titles. Among them is 86 -Eighty Six- (86-エイティシックス-). This series blends elements of science fiction with mecha and military themes. Originally, it started as an immensely popular light novel series that began its publication in 2017. Its adaptation into a manga commenced in 2018, and by 2021, it was animated. The anime, produced by A-1 Pictures, aired 23 episodes from 2021 to 2022.
In the world of 86 -Eighty Six-, the Republic of San Magnolia has been at war with the Giadian Empire. Although the Republic claims that their battles are drone-based and casualty-free, in reality, they’ve ostracized a group of their own citizens, calling them the Eighty-Six, and force them to pilot these drones. The story revolves around Shinei Nouzen, a leader of an Eighty-Six squadron, and Major Vladilena Milizé, a handler who directs the squadron from a remote rear. The novel delves into themes of racism, societal oppression, and the costs of war.
Studio: A-1 Pictures
The recent sci-fi anime 86 -Eighty Six- has distinguished as an astonishing newcomer since it started airing in April, 2[…]
FLCL (フリクリ), pronounced “Fooly Cooly”, is a unique, coming-of-age OVA series mixed with science fiction, produced by Gainax and Production I.G. Released in 2000, it spans six episodes and is renowned for its frenetic animation style, eclectic soundtrack by the Japanese rock band “The Pillows”, and its unconventional storytelling.
Naota Nandaba’s mundane life in a quiet town is disrupted when an eccentric woman named Haruko Haruhara hits him with her Vespa. Suddenly, Naota finds a horn growing from his forehead and gets embroiled in a series of bizarre events involving extraterrestrial beings, giant robots, and a mysterious organization. As all these unfold, the series delves deep into adolescence, love, and the chaos of growing up.
Studio: Gainax, Production I.G
Produced as a brand new original anime that has no materials like manga or light novels, Psycho-Pass (PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス) is a futuristic crime psychological thriller anime series that premiered in 2012. Made by Production I.G and later by Tatsunoko Production, the series was directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro. There are three seasons of the television anime series airing from 2012 to 2019 and four parts of the anime movie series released between 2015 and 2023. It delves into a dystopian future where people are judged by their mental state, or Psycho-Pass.
Set in a future Japan, the Sibyl System determines a person’s threat level by examining their mental state for signs of criminal intent. Inspectors uphold the law by subjugating, often with lethal force, anyone harboring harmful tendencies. They’re assisted by Enforcers, former Inspectors that have become latent criminals. The story follows Inspector Akane Tsunemori, who begins to question the system’s infallibility as she confronts true evil.
Aired: 2012-2013 (Season 1)/2014 (Season 4)/2019 (Season 3)
Episodes: 22 (Season 1)/11 (Season 4)/8 (Season 3)
Released (Movies): 2015 (Psycho-Pass: The Movie)/2019 (Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System)/2020 (Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector)/2023 (Psycho-Pass: Providence)
Studio: Production I.G (Season 2 made by Tatsunoko Production)
8. Eureka Seven
Eureka Seven (交響詩篇エウレカセブン) is a mecha anime series produced by Bones and directed by Tomoki Kyoda. Premiering in 2005, the series spans 50 episodes and has spawned several manga adaptations, movies, and sequels. In 2009, a parallel world story with major setting changes, the film Eureka Seven: Pocket Full of Rainbows, was released. In 2012, the legitimate sequel, Eureka Seven AO, aired on TV. Furthermore, in 2017, 2018, and 2021, a trilogy reboot of the original anime series titled Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution was released.
Renton Thurston, a 14-year-old boy, leads a mundane life until he meets the mysterious Eureka, a pilot of the Nirvash typeZERO. Joining the Gekkostate rebel group, Renton becomes embroiled in an epic struggle against the oppressive military organization known as the United Federation. As Renton and Eureka’s relationship deepens, they discover the secrets of the Coralians and the true purpose of the mechs, shaping the fate of the world.
Aired: 2005-2006/2012 (Eureka Seven AO)
Episodes: 50 (Eureka Seven)/24 (Eureka Seven AO)
Released (Movies): 2017 (Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1)/2018 (Anemone: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution)/2021 (Eureka: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution)
7. Trigun/Trigun Stampede
Trigun (トライガン) is based on the gun action and sci-fi manga serialized from 1995 to 1997. In 1998, the manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series by Madhouse. Later, in 2010, an anime film titled Trigun: Badlands Rumble was released, set in a parallel world of the original story. However, the Trigun saga didn’t end there. In 2023, a completely revamped series, Trigun Stampede, began airing. The first season was masterfully produced by Studio Orange, consisting of 12 episodes of exceptional quality, followed by Trigun Stampede Final Phase.
Trigun follows Vash the Stampede, a gunslinger with a mysterious past, infamous for the destruction he leaves in his wake, earning a $$60 billion bounty on his head. Yet, Vash’s demeanor contrasts his reputation, as he avoids violence and champions love and peace. As he journeys across a desolate wasteland, he’s pursued by bounty hunters, while two insurance agents, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, tail him to minimize the damage. As the series progresses, Vash’s enigmatic history, especially his connection to a man named Knives, slowly unravels.
Trigun Stampede was produced more than 10 years after the original series concluded, and as a result, there have been bold shuffles in the timeline and changes in the settings. As the title suggests, the series returns to its roots, delving into the story with Vash’s inner psyche as its central focus.
Aired: 1998 (Trigun)/2023- (Trigun Stampede)
Episodes: 26 (Trigun)/12+ (Trigun Stampede)
Released (Movies): 2010 (Trigun: Badlands Rumble)
Studio: Madhouse (Trigun, Trigun: Badlands Rumble)/Orange (Trigun Stampede)
6. Dr. Stone
Many anime fans think of Dr. Stone as a masterpiece of recent science fiction anime. It is a popular anime series adapted from the manga of the same name, which began serialization in 2017 and concluded in 2022. Animated by TMS Entertainment, the series first aired in 2019. The second season was broadcast with 11 episodes, followed the a television special in 2022 and the third season in 2023.
In a world where all of humanity is mysteriously turned to stone, the extraordinarily intelligent Senku Ishigami awakens 3,700 years later. Determined to restore civilization through the power of science, Senku embarks on a quest to rebuild society from scratch, beginning with creating a cure for the petrification. As he confronts challenges and battles those who oppose his scientific approach, Senku remains unwavering in his mission to bring the Stone World back to the modern age.
Aired: 2019 (Season 1)/2021 (Season 2)/2022 (TV Special)/2023 (Season 3)
Episodes: 24 (Season 1)/11 (Season 2)/1 (TV Special)/11+ (Season 3)
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Dr. Stone is one of the hottest manga and anime series these days. The original manga series just came to the end in Mar[…]
5. Cowboy Bebop
Airing in 1998-1999, Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ) is a renowned anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and produced by the studio Sunrise. The world’s popular sci-fi action anime series was followed by the first and only anime movie Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, also known as Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, in 2001. The anime’s eclectic style is complemented by Yoko Kanno’s memorable jazz-infused soundtrack. Its 26 episodes are known as “sessions.”
Set in the year 2071, Cowboy Bebop follows bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and his ragtag crew aboard the spaceship Bebop. As they traverse the galaxy chasing criminals, each member confronts their dark pasts. The series masterfully mixes thrilling action, deep introspection, and poignant moments, making it a staple in anime culture.
4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱) can indeed be recognized as a trailblazer for the Sekai-kei genre, where science fiction and slice-of-life elements intertwine. It is a Japanese anime series based on the light novel series of the same name written by Nagaru Tanigawa since 2003. Animated by Kyoto Animation and directed by Tatsuya Ishihara, the series originally aired in 2006 and gained significant popularity both domestically and internationally due to its unique storytelling and character dynamics. The television anime series was followed by the anime movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya in 2010.
Kyon, an ordinary high school student, unexpectedly finds his life turned upside down when he encounters the eccentric Haruhi Suzumiya. She’s convinced that the ordinary world is boring and seeks out the supernatural and extraordinary. Inspired by a conversation with Kyon, Haruhi forms the SOS Brigade, a club dedicated to finding aliens, time travelers, and espers. Little does she know, some of its members, including an alien, a time traveler, and an esper, have joined the club to keep an eye on her, as she unknowingly has the power to change the universe. The series follows their daily adventures, often stemming from Haruhi’s wild whims.
Aired: 2006 (Season 1)/2009 (Season 2)
Episodes: 14 (Season 1)/14 (Season 2)
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Haruhi Suzumiya Series is well known in various respects: As a representative Sekai-kei (a kind of genre in anime and li[…]
3. Ghost In The Shell
Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊) is a pioneering anime that is categorized as cyberpunk, a subgenre of science fiction. It was first released as an anime movie directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995. The film is an adaptation of the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The first movie was followed by the second film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence in 2004 and lots of television series and movies. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the anime series airing between 2002 and 2006, is one of the most popular parts of the franchise. Visually striking, with groundbreaking animation for its time, it is lauded for its meticulous detail and thought-provoking narrative.
Set in a dystopian future, the story revolves around Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg officer leading the elite task force Section 9. In a world where humans can easily integrate with machines, thereby modifying their bodies and even uploading their consciousness, Major is on the hunt for an elusive hacker known as the Puppet Master. As the investigation progresses, she delves deeper into issues of identity, the meaning of the soul, and where the line between humanity and artificiality truly lies. The plot intricately weaves action with introspective moments, culminating in revelations about the Puppet Master and Major’s own existence, prompting profound questions about the essence of life and consciousness.
Released (Movies): 1995 (Ghost in the Shell)/2004 (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence)/2013-2014 (Ghost in the Shell: Arise)/2015 (Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie)/2021 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War)
Aired: 2002-2003 (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)/2004-2005 (Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG)/2006 (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society)/2015 (Arise – Alternative Architecture)/2020-2022 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045)
Episodes: 26 (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)/26 (Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG)/1 (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society)/10 (Arise – Alternative Architecture)/24 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045)
Studio: Production I.G./Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045)
This has reigned as one of the greatest science fiction masterpieces of our time. Steins;Gate is an anime adaptation of a visual novel game developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus. Premiering in 2011, the anime was produced by White Fox and directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki and Takuya Sato. After the first season broadcasted with 24 episodes in 2011, Steins;Gate: The Movie − Load Region of Déjà Vu was released in 2013, and the second season titled Steins;Gate 0 aired with 23 episodes in 2018. The series masterfully blends elements of science fiction, particularly revolving around the concept of time travel, with intricate character dynamics and compelling emotional narratives.
The plot follows Rintarou Okabe, a self-proclaimed mad scientist, who, along with his friends Mayuri Shiina and Itaru Hashida, unintentionally discovers a method to send messages to the past using their microwave. These messages, termed as “D-mails,” trigger a series of events that drastically alter the course of history. As they experiment further, they come across a girl named Kurisu Makise, a genius neuroscientist, who becomes a crucial member of their group. However, their meddling with time soon attracts unwanted attention and leads to unintended consequences. The deeper they delve into the intricacies of time travel, the more they realize its potential dangers. Okabe is faced with difficult moral dilemmas and emotional challenges as he strives to rectify the problems they’ve created and protect his friends, all while navigating various alternate timelines known as “world lines.”
Aired: 2011 (Season 1)/2018 (Season 2)
Episodes: 24 (Season 1)/23 (Season 2)
Studio: White Fox
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion/Rebuild of Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン), often shortened to “Evangelion” or “Eva,” is a groundbreaking anime series directed by Hideaki Anno and produced by the anime studios Gainax and Tatsunoko. Premiering in 1995, the series consists of 26 episodes and has since expanded to include movies, notably The End of Evangelion in 1997 which serves as a parallel conclusion to the series. Regarded as a deconstruction of the mecha genre, Evangelion delves deep into psychological and philosophical themes, garnering both acclaim and controversy for its storytelling, characters, and intricate symbolism. Its cultural impact in Japan and abroad has been profound, influencing many subsequent anime and media. Widely recognized as one of the greatest anime series, it released its remake anime movies called Rebuild of Evangelion (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版), which began in 2007 and concluded in 2021. Encompassing four installments, it captivated not only the fans from its inception but also the younger generation of anime enthusiasts in recent times.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, 15 years after a catastrophic event known as the “Second Impact,” humanity faces existential threats from mysterious beings known as Angels. NERV, a special agency under the United Nations, combats these Angels using giant humanoid robots called Evangelions. The story primarily follows Shinji Ikari, a teenage boy reluctantly recruited by NERV to pilot one such Evangelion. As Shinji grapples with the weight of his responsibility, he forms bonds with his fellow pilots, Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley Soryu. However, as battles intensify and secrets are revealed, Shinji’s mental state unravels, and the true nature of NERV’s objectives and the Evangelions themselves become increasingly ambiguous. The series delves deep into the psyche of its main characters, exploring themes of loneliness, depression, and the human desire for connection.
Released: 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2021 (Rebuild of Evangelion)
Studio: Gainax/Tatsunoko Production (Neon Genesis Evangelion)/Studio Khara (Rebuild of Evangelion)
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